Reviewed by Helyce
Dwyer Knolls works for a company that deals in large real estate deals. When we meet him, he’s quite positive that he’s going to be fired. Sitting in a large conference room, where executives from their parent company in Japan are firing employees left and right, Dwyer is just waiting for his turn. So he is completely shocked when he isn’t fired at all; is complimented on his forward thinking and the fact that though a deal was lost, he’d probably saved the company a lot of money in the long run; realizes that he’s one of the few staying on. If that wasn’t enough, in the corner of the room, observing and sitting quietly, is the most beautiful man who Dwyer has ever seen.
Takeo Hiroyuki, has been sent, along with several other executives, to the Chicago office where they plan to do a complete overhaul. He is awkward, doesn’t say much, and therefore comes across as aloof and unapproachable. He doesn’t work well with people, with the exception of Dwyer who seems to be the only one who “gets” him. They form an unlikely friendship over the years.
When a situation pops up with a property in Florida where the seller is on the fence about selling, Dwyer and his partner Mak are sent to take care of it. But Mak is not the one who gets on the plane, it’s Takeo. There has always been something between these two and being thrown together in an unexpected way might just be the catalyst that bring them together.
Ever since I found and read her Matter Of Time series, Mary Calmes has been an author on my radar. So I’m always excited when one of her stories comes to us at Smexy Books. While I was not exactly disappointed, this story was a bit hit and miss for me.
I liked Dwyer, and how the story starts out with such a surprise. Dwyer is expecting to be fired, but no–home office is thrilled with his actions and they want him to lead a team. He becomes the “man” the play maker, so to speak. His instincts about people and the way a deal may go make him very good at what he does, and quite successful.
Takeo, on the other hand, is made out to be a joke. He can’t work with anyone and he goes through employee after employee over the course of the story. I kept wondering why he was the one that was still there. Why he wasn’t fired or sent back to Japan instead. The why of it is finally revealed at one point and I found I was correct in my summation. In any event, we really don’t get to know Takeo. We have glimpses of a sort of playful friendship that Dwyer tries to foster with Takeo to help him drop some of the stiff Japanese upbringing he wears like a suit, but then Takeo is promoted to a Director position and due to the respect that position demands, all attempts seem to stop.
This is a short story that spans about threes years, but for more than half of the book, our supposed MCs barely speak to each other or interact in any way that is not work related. We know from Dwyer’s POV that he’s got it bad for Takeo. He feels bad for him-thrust out of his very proper Japanese lifestyle, into an American based company where things and especially people, are very different. Dwyer forms a great friendship with his Japanese partner, Mak, who strangely adapts almost effortlessly to the American way as does their boss, Shiga Ayumi, who meets and forms an intimate attachment to an American man.
So, we know Dwyer is attracted to Takeo, and has tried to be a friend as much as he can over the course of three years. We know that he wants him, imagines sexual scenarios of desk sex and the like. But three years???? Are we to assume that Dwyer does not have sex or form any other intimate or emotional attachments over that time? If it’s happening, it’s all off page. Are we also suppose to accept that over three years, there was no hint that Takeo might be gay?
It isn’t until they are sent on a business trip together where Dwyer and Takeo are forced to speak on a level that they’ve never done so before. Takeo arrives late, barely making the flight and it is clear that he’s been drinking and suffering from a hangover. Perhaps it is because he is in this state that he is able to speak so openly to Dwyer for the first time and express how much he’s appreciated how Dwyer has always included him and tried to make him feel part of the team. Then, when they get to their hotel, which is actually a very quaint bed and breakfast (what????) Dwyer just up and kisses Takeo and consummates his three years of pent up lust and want.
Mary Calmes does m/m sex in a way that makes you believe and feel the lust, want and love that the couple feel for each other. It is hot, sexy, and I could almost forget all the WTFerfy that had led to that point. Clearly these two men, are meant to be together. They just fit and everything just miraculously falls into place for them.
But, seriously, three years?????
From this point, the story takes an abrupt left turn that just didn’t fit in my opinion. Takeo and Dwyer, clearly in love, make some huge life changes in order to be together, changes that include their friends/co-workers. While well done, giving us all the all the good feels of a happily ever after-there was just something a bit off for me.
A short quick read with many humorous moments and some secondary characters that do help to carry the story along, we are also given an emotional element I’ve come to expect from this author. There were just a few holes that didn’t sit right for me.